Shahi Pulao – A vegetarian paradise

shahi pulao copyShahi means “royal” in the hindi language and this pulao recipe truly justifies the title “Shahi Pulao – a vegetarian paradise”. Talking of various possible renderations of rice dishes, i believe that Shahi pulao wins a millions hearts. Aromatic and addictive, this rice pulao recipe is a quicker version of the biryani with a promise of making any of your vegetarian meal a delight !

Pulao is a common term used in India for a rice dish cooked with spices, condiments and/or vegetables, lentils, meat etc. Also known as Pilaf in various international cuisines, this dish is a favorite amongst many. For me, i find pulao a neat way to please my cravings for hot, nutritious and wholesome meal. Rice is such a versatile grain. Commonly eaten plain with cooked spicy lentils/ daals and/or sabzi/ cooked vegetables in India, rice is considered a staple diet in various parts of India. As a visual person, i see plain rice as a new white canvas, providing me with lots of inspiration. Each new element added into rice gives it a distinctive new character every single time. You may assume that i am some sort of crazy creative to think about food in that way but … hey is’nt that an interesting perspective 🙂

For me Shahi pulao is much more than just a dish. It reminds me of all those childhood sunday winter afternoons when a pipping hot plate of shahi pulao served along with some spiced mint raita (mint flavoured yoghurt) would be the only comfort from the harsh cold. Sunday was one day the family would share a long lunch together and this dish was comforting in every way. Not only our family favorite, this dish would usually also be made when we had guests over for dinner as this dish makes for a very elegant, tasty and quick addition to any Indian menu.

DSB’s Shahi pulao recipe uses lots of hearty vegetables and blend of some exotic, aromatic spices which creates almost a magical dining experience.

Fun to make and eat, this recipe is simply mouth watering. If you remember my blog post “The year 2013 – a snapshot”, i had conducted a cooking workshop “Hot Delhi” in Montreal in Nov 2013 and this was one of the recipes covered in that workshop. Everyone loved the dish and people surely came back for second servings 🙂

Shahi Pulao

Shahi Pulao

  • Servings: 4
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shahi pulao copyRecipe

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tsp ghee/ butter/ oil
  • 4 cups water


  • 1big onion – cut lengthwise
  • 1 potato – cut into 1 cm cubes
  • ¼ cup green beans- cut into inch long sticks
  • 6-7 cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup peas
  • 1 medium sized carrot- cut into inch long sticks
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 green chilli- finely chopped


  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 cloves, black pepper corns
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3-4 strands of Saffron (optional) – soaked in 1 tsp lukewarm milk for about 10 minutes before using


  • 5-6 cashews/ almonds/raisins
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander/cilantro leaves



  1. Take basmati rice in a pot. Wash thoroughly and pour in 4 cups of water. Let it soak for about 30 minutes.
  2. Take a saucepan and add ½ tsp ghee/butter/oil. To this add in the cashews and almonds and roast on medium flame till the cashews are lightly toasted. Remove from saucepan and keep aside for garnishing. Cut the cashews in half and chop the almonds lengthwise. This will be used for garnishing.


  1. Take a saucepan. Add the ghee/butter/oil. Let it melt on medium flame. You can alter the quantity of ghee/butter as per preference. I usually keep a little less ghee/butter while cooking and prefer to add in some on the top while serving to attain a lustre and aroma in the shahi pulao.
  2. To this, add in the cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorn & bay leaves. Stir and let it roast till the bay leaves are golden brown.
  3. Now add in the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds splutter. Set the flame to high. Now add in the onion slices and roast till golden brown.
  4. To this, add in potato, green beans, cauliflower florets, peas and carrots. Add salt, red chilli powder, ginger and green chilli. Add more chillies if you want to make the pulao spicier.
  5. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Bring down the flame to medium and let the vegetables cook till tender. This should take about 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, put the basmati rice to boil in a separate pan. Add in 1 tsp of salt and mix well. At his moment, also add the saffron and the 1 tsp milk. You may squeeze the saffron strands in the milk to extract maximum flavour.
  7. Once the rice is half cooked, add in the vegetables from the saucepan to it. Cover with lid and put on simmer till the rice is completely cooked. Combine the vegetables gently with the rice so that the rice grains remain intact.


To Serve

Garnish the shahi pulao with chopped coriander and dry fruits (almonds/cashews/raisins). Sprinkle the garam masala. You may also drizzle ½ tsp ghee/butter/oil on top before serving. Serve hot.

The use of exotic herbs and spices makes this dish irresistibly tasty and welcoming. The vegetables shine bright and lustrous against the long rice grains. The addition of roasted nuts is like the silver lining to life that is great with Shahi pulao on your plate.

Recreate this recipe at your home and enjoy a delightful meal. For a tastier zing and appeal, you can also garnish the pulao with some golden brown fried shallots/ onions. Enjoy ~

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